Bridging the Gap Between Human Resources and CX

Top three ways CX and HR can collaborate for better results on customer and employee experience.


Jeannie Walters

August 10, 2020

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Great customer experiences have one important trait in common: exceptional employees that meet or exceed expectations. And yet, it’s not often that Human Resources (HR) leaders and customer experience (CX) leaders collaborate to create better experiences for both employees and customers. Doing so helps brands create loyal employees who deliver the experiences that lead to loyal customers.

Consider the employee journey as an opportunity to find, hire, train, and engage with employees who are willing and able to deliver on your customer experience in the best possible ways.  

Working together, HR and CX leaders can support each other’s goals at each phase of the employee experience (EX). After all, engaged and satisfied employees are more likely to stay in their job, reducing talent acquisition, and gaining valuable expertise that serves the brand and its customers. 

Disengaged employees, on the other hand, are less productive and compassionate, and less likely to go the extra mile for their teams and customers. And highly engaged teams show 21% more profitably, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report.

This article covers the top three ways CX and HR can collaborate for better results all around. 

Find the right people 

HR is tasked with finding candidates and hiring employees. Finding skilled workers can be challenging, and it requires many resources to create the right job descriptions, enact proactive search methods, and ultimately select the right person for the job.  

How do recruiters and hiring managers know what traits to look for beyond the skills for the job? 

Brands that deliver on great customer experiences know because they align these desired employee traits with the characteristics needed to live up to the brand promise.

Recruiting top talent means connecting the mission of the company with the contributions of the candidate, right from the beginning. This could mean spending more time on the job descriptions to showcase how the right employee will be an important part of delivering the experience for customers.

This doesn’t apply just for customer-facing roles. Customer-focused brands help every employee understand how their daily work connects with overall results.  

CX leaders can help draft up the right keywords and copy to include in every job posting and description. A great example of this is how the company DocuSign posts this “Our Agreement with Our Employees” on job postings:

Our agreement with employees: 

DocuSign is committed to building trust and making the world more agree-able for our employees, customers and the communities in which we live and work. You can count on us to listen, be honest, and try our best to do what’s right, every day. At DocuSign, everything is equal. We each have a responsibility to ensure every team member has an equal opportunity to succeed, to be heard, to exchange ideas openly, to build lasting relationships, and to do the work of their life. 

Best of all, you will be able to feel deep pride in the work you do, because your contribution helps us make the world better. And for that, you’ll be loved by us, our customers, and the world in which we live.

This agreement shows their commitment to their culture, employees,  customers, and mission. It’s an invitation to join that culture instead of just posting the basic skills required.

The candidate experience, whether they get the job or not, should reflect what’s important to the brand and what the customer experience should be. The experience of an employee candidate should reflect the values and vision of the overall company’s CX approach. If candidates are treated without respect or are not provided the right information at the right time in the hiring journey, this can set the stage for what is and isn’t expected by the organization, for both employees and customers.

Onboard for new insights

There are key points along any employee journey that shape how the employee feels about their experience. Onboarding, those critical first few weeks or months as a new employee, is definitely one of those times.

New employees are often told to sit still and listen up. They are given lots of training around processes, like how to submit insurance forms, but not as much training around why the customer experience is part of their job.

A key opportunity for CX leaders is to gather new insights from new hires. New employees bring fresh perspectives, and they might ask questions about why things are done a certain way. They don’t view things with the “this is how we do it” mentality. 

New employees can offer insights into both the customer experience and the processes to deliver on it. HR leaders should invite this feedback. During the onboarding phase, make it a point to let new hires know their honest feedback on how to improve the customer experience is invited and encouraged.

Some organizations have several days of orientation “classes” where leaders explain the brand promise, sales expectations, and more. The curriculum should incorporate customer experience, including what expectations customers have, how to deliver on them, and how it’s measured and improved.

Every employee should know how CX is measured across departments and how to understand the derived customer insights and data. For example, a brand that tracks Net Promoter Score (NPS) would want employees to understand how their company’s score compares to others in the industry. It would want employees to understand what a good NPS score is and how they themselves can contribute to improving the score.

It’s also important to communicate where this information is shared and how often. Employees should do more than just nod along when they hear the NPS is going up or down, they need to understand what actions and behaviors support those changes.

Yet often the onboarding stage in the employee journey is more about forms and procedures than customers. But CX and HR leaders can work together to make this formative time more meaningful for employees and ultimately the customers they serve.

Train and engage for better results

Employees want to do a good job and want happy customers. Yet they sometimes aren’t given the proper information, knowledge, and thorough training they need to make this possible.

Fast-food chain KFC found that lack of training was a key driver to employee attrition. New product launches were especially challenging for employees, and the lack of training on how to prepare and package new products led to declines in customer satisfaction rates and employee retention.  

After investing in better training, including adding specific training goals to store scorecards, employee engagement went up by 3 points and customer satisfaction rates improved with those product launches. 

Customer experience metrics, like Customer Satisfaction Rate (CSAT) or Net Promoter Score (NPS), can point to where more training is needed for the workforce. These metrics can be tied to specific products, touchpoints, or milestones in the customer journey. That customer feedback can help HR leaders develop the right training for the right moment, instead of prioritizing all training for everyone.

CX leaders can also develop customer feedback points that mirror where HR measures the employee experience. This is a great technique to understand the relationship between employee engagement and customer happiness. 

Once employees have joined the organization, HR can help identify the superstars by leveraging CX metrics. Remember those transactional surveys to track CSAT and Customer Effort Score (CES)? HR leaders can review top performers and then determine what best practices and behaviors deliver the best customer experiences.

Employee evaluations should include customer experience behaviors and attitudes. Many standard employee evaluations disregard specific behaviors that are identified as positive for the customer experience.

If the organization is focused on friendly service, for example, what are some of the identifiable ways employees can deliver on this? How is it tracked? Customer feedback and metrics can be connected to specific employees. 

There are many ways to identify, encourage, and measure specific desired behaviors. This benefits the organization through lower employee turnover, more successful training, and better business results like higher sales. It also benefits the customers they are serving.

The employee experience continues with key moments in learning and development. As CX leaders learn what customers really need, employee learning paths that reflect these best practices can be adapted and prioritized. 

The internal experience is the customer experience 

Whether you want it to or not, the experience inside the organization gets reflected outside the organization. CX and Human Resources are natural partners to deliver superior employee and customer experiences.

Leaders need to communicate what’s most important and can’t assume employees will “just know.” Employees deserve to know their actions should be aligned with the overall vision and values, yet only 11%  of workers reported their rewards were “highly aligned” with their organizational goals, according to the 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Report.

Employees and customers both want experiences that recognize who they are and deliver on the promises made to them. It’s up to leaders throughout the organization to build the bridges necessary to deliver for everyone.  

Living up to the vision of the organization and providing a meaningful experience for customers starts and ends with the employee experience. This tells us there is work to do. HR and CX leaders are the perfect leaders to do it. 

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About the guest author 

Jeannie Walters, CCXP, CEO, Experience Investigators™ by 360Connext 

Jeannie Walters is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) and is CEO of Experience Investigators. She is a customer experience speaker, writer, and consultant with more than 20 years of experience in assisting all types of companies, including Fortune 500. Specialties include in-depth customer experience evaluations, customer journey mapping, user experience analysis, and leading workshops and training programs. Her mission is: To Create Fewer Ruined Days for Customers.™ Connect with her: | @jeanniecw

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